Lease Optimization Companies
Lease optimization companies are entities that were formed to negotiate better leases for the parties they represent (typically, tower owners and wireless carriers). Please note that Steel in the Air is not affiliated with any of these companies. Steel in the Air is similar to a lease optimization company, but, as we like to say, “We play for the home team.” We work exclusively for the LESSOR (e.g., private and public landowners, and municipal governments) in negotiations against telecom companies (the LESSEE). For more information on Steel in the Air’s services, please see: Who We Serve, What We Do and Advantages.
We have provided contact information, including web addresses for each of the companies in case you have found our website in error while searching for these companies.
Black Dot Wireless: Visit their website: www.blackdotwireless.com
Historically, Black Dot has worked for Alltel, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular. In the past few months, we have seen increased numbers of inquiries to landowners related to AT&T leases. These inquiries take the following format:
- Requests to extend an AT&T cell tower lease that has less than five years remaining;
- Requests to amend an AT&T cell tower lease to add a “Right of First Refusal” clause and to make changes to the “permitted use” language;
- Requests to reduce the lease rate currently being paid to AT&T cell tower landowners.
- Requests to expand the lease area and permit AT&T to add equipment and antennas (this clause will become increasingly more important to AT&T)
In some cases, Black Dot will offer a nominal increase in the lease rate in exchange for an extension of the lease duration. However, we caution all landowners who are approached by Black Dot on behalf of AT&T to be wary of any proposed changes. These proposals (even the ones that increase the lease rate) almost always attempt to encourage the landowner to sign an undervalued lease extension or to agree to terms that could materially reduce the value of the site.
In the past, we have advised most people who contact us with these offers to disregard them. However, we believe that the situationchanged in 2017 and that there may be sites that will be relocated if rent concessions are not made. If you have received an offer from Black Dot, please forward it to us. We will review it at no charge and either recommend that you do nothing (decline to make changes) or, provided that we believe we can help, will quote you a cost for our services.
Md7: Visit their website: www.md7.com
Md7 has historically provided services to the same companies as Black Dot Wireless. These two companies are direct competitors, and at times, if wireless carriers were not seeing satisfactory results (a significant number of changes to existing leases) using one company, they would engage the other. Today, most of the contact we see from Md7 is as follows:
- Proposals to amend T-Mobile leases due to the threat of merger between Sprint and T-Mobile.
- Proposals to amend Sprint leases to add additional equipment to the site;
- Proposals to purchase leases from leaseholders (in this capacity, they are acting as a lease buyout company)
If you have been contacted by Md7 regarding your T-Mobile or Sprint lease and have been asked to sign an amendment with either little to no compensation, we advise you take caution. You may be entitled to additional compensation for those modifications.
With the increasing chatter regarding the possibility of a Sprint/T-Mobile merger, Md7 representatives try to suggest that by doing a deal now, you can reduce the possibility of termination of your lease under a merger. In our opinion, unless they are willing to remove termination rights in the lease for at least seven years, these offers may not be worth considering unless you have a high rent.
Please reach out to us and we will gladly review your lease and the proposal at no cost and then let you know whether you need our services further and if so, how much they will cost.
Smartlink: visit their website www.smartlinkllc.com
In the early part of 2017, we have started to see Smartlink contacting landowners with offers to renegotiate the terms of AT&T leases. Smartlink alleges that the landowner’s cell site lease is under review in AT&T’s “TOSS” program- which is likely just a catchy acronym intended to suggest to landowners that their site will be “tossed” if the landowner does not agree to the revised terms.
Like the other lease optimization entities above, Smartlink is likely compensated based on a success fee for encouraging landowners to renegotiate. We have not seen enough of their offers to know whether Smartlink is targeting higher paid rent leases or just a random sample of leases.
Either way, if you have received an offer from Smartlink on behalf of AT&T, please feel free to forward it to us. We will review it and let you know whether you should throw it in the trash, consider it, or whether we should do a review to evaluate the risk to your site if you choose not to accept the revised terms.
Lyle Company: Visit their website: www.lyleco.com
While not considered a lease optimization company per se, Lyle Company does assist some tower companies with lease negotiations, such as lease extensions and lease buyout offers. Most of the inquiries we see are from landowners who have been contacted by Lyle Company acting on behalf of Crown Castle. Their proposals take two forms:
- Proposals to extend the expiration terms of a Crown Castle lease agreement;
- Proposals to purchase an easement for a lump sum under an existing Crown Castle lease agreement.
Regardless of why an agent from Lyle Company is contacting you, they are always seeking to procure the best value for Crown Castle. They have amassed a substantial amount of data and information on their side. They know how much the tower is worth to Crown, how much leeway they have in negotiations, and what other options are available to Crown. You should too, and that is where we come in. We help level the playing field by assisting you with optimizing your lease extension or lease buyout, if that is, in fact what you want to do.
Requests to reduce monthly lease payments might not be detrimental to your bottom line. It is important to look at the terms of the lease, holistically. In some cases, for instance, modifications that extend the duration of your lease while reducing the monthly lease payments might result in a higher net present value.
You may have received an offer to purchase your cell site lease (what is referred to as a “lease buyout”). Contrary to what you might be lead to believe by the company who has made you an offer, the risk that your lease will be terminated may not be a factor at all. In other words, buyout companies are in the business of profiting.
Steel in the Air prides itself on accurate, ethical, data-driven analysis. Some other websites and cellular consultants have accurate data, but skewed advice (due to self-serving motivations); while others have honest intentions yet biased data. Steel in the Air has the best of both worlds. You can depend on us. Just ask our clients!